A newly formed Stratford District Council committee met for the first time last month.

The Farm and Aerodrome Committee, chaired by Councillor Grant Boyde, will provide oversight of the combined activities of both the council-owned dairy farm on Flint Rd and the Stratford Aerodrome.

As well as Boyde, councillors Vaughan Jones and Peter Dalziel sit on the committee along with two council staff members. Only the three councillors have voting rights. All other elected members can attend the meetings, which are also open to the public.

The committee will meet quarterly and report back to council on matters including risk and performance management and strategy development.

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While the committee is new, the farm and aerodrome aren't.

In fact, Stratford District Council has had a farm for more than 80 years, first purchasing the land on which the original farm was established in 1934. The farm acts as a buffer zone between the aerodrome and residential housing for noise mitigation and operational purposes.

At that time 64ha of land was purchased, of which 17ha was used to establish the aerodrome and the remainder farmed with the idea it would generate the income needed to sustain the aerodrome. Thirty-five years later council extended the farm, purchasing 37ha of land adjoining the farm and aerodrome to the south. Another neighbouring 53ha was purchased in 2015.

Today the farm covers 158ha, or which 132 is effective as farmland. It has two houses and one self-contained cabin on the property. It has 370 Friesian-Cross cows which are owned by sharemilkers Aaron Riddick and Fiona Hogan-Riddick, who have been on the farm since 2013.

During the meeting, Boyde said the hard work put in by the sharemilkers clearly showed.

"They really put the work in and treat it like their own."

The committee heard that the farm was expected to return a net profit of $204,717 for the 2019/20 year, with the final amount confirmed in mid-July.

Mayor Neil Volzke said the past year had been "an outstanding year" for the farm.

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"Everyone associated with it should be proud, especially the sharemilkers. They do the hard yards and as a result the farm is able to contribute significantly to rates remission."


Disclaimer: Editor Ilona Hanne is married to the Stratford District Council CEO.

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